PROMINENT HOLLYWOOD STARS WITH NIGERIAN ROOTS
There is no doubt that Nigeria is blessed with talent. Our HR exports have grown over the years to become a force to reckon with.
It is not surprising then when we see actors of Nigerian descent wake up and do well for themselves in Hollywood while making all Nigerians proud in the process.
In the next few paragraphs, we’ll dive into the actors of Nigerian descent who have either consolidated or are beginning to establish themselves as big players in the Hollywood terrain.
1. Cynthia Erivo
She is a British-Nigerian actress, singer, and songwriter, who played the lead role in the biopic Harriet and was nominated for several awards. Her full name is: Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo. She was born in Stockwell England on January 8, 1987 to Nigerian parents. Her mother is a nurse.
She attended La Retreat Roman Catholic School for Girls. Erivo began his studies in Musical Psychology from the University of East London. However, a year after her degree, she was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where her multiple talents blossomed.
Erivo entered the films industry in 2018 with roles in Heist Widows and Bad Times in El Royale. In 2019, she portrayed abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the biographical film Harriet, for which she received nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award.
She has received numerous awards, including a Daytime Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, and a Tony Award, as well as nominations for two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
2. David Oyelowo
David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo OBE was born on the 1st of April 1976 to Nigerian parents in England. His father is from Oyo state while his mother is from Edo state.
He grew up in Tooting, south London, until he was six when his family moved to Lagos. The family went way back when he was fourteen years old. He received a three-year training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and completed his three-year training in 1998.
He played supporting roles in films such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Lincoln (2012), Jack Reacher (2012) and earned praise for his portrayal of Louis Gaines in The Butler (2013).
He is set to star with Lupita Nyong’o in a film based on the Americanah Chimamanda novel by Ngozi Adichie. The story follows a pair of young Nigerian immigrants who face a lifelong struggle while their relationship continues.
3. Yvonne Orji
Nigerian-American actress and comedian born on December 2, 1983. She is best known for her role in the HBO series Unsafe. She was born to her Nigerian parents in Port Harcourt, Nigeria but grew up in Maryland, USA. Yvonne has starred in many films such as Insecure, Jane the Virgin, and script, etc.
4. John Boyega
John Adedayo B. Adegboyega was born on the 17th of March 1992 in Peckham England to Nigerian parents. He is known professionally as John Boyega.
He has played Finn in the Star Wars series trilogy films The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi (2017), and The Rise of Skywalker.
5. Ejiofor Chiwetel
Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor is a British-Nigerian actor. He was born and raised in the UK by his Nigerian parents. He is a descendant of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. After enrolling at the National Youth Theater in 1995 and attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, at the age of 19 and three months into his studies, Ejiofor was cast by Steven Spielberg to play a supporting role in the Amistad film as James Coffey. Ejiofor has starred in many films like 12 years a slave, The Lion King, Half of a Yellow Sun, Deadly travel etc.
6. Uzo Aduba
Uzoamaka Nwanneka “Uzo” Aduba is an American actress. She was born on the 10th of February 1981 to Nigerian Parents in Boston, USA. Uzo is best known for playing Susan “Crazy Eyes” Warren in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, for which she won an Emmy Award.
7. Hakeem Kay Kazem
Hakim Kay Kazem is a British-Nigerian actor best known for his work in the TV series Starz Black Sails and for his portrayal of George Rutaganda in the 2004 drama film Hotel Rwanda. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria but is originally from Ogun State. He has also appeared in Nigerian films such as Last flight to Abuja, Black November.
8. Carmen Ejogo
Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo is a British television and film actress and singer. She was born on October 22, 1973 to a Scottish mother, Elizabeth (née Douglas) and a Nigerian father named Charles Egogo. She began her career as a teenager hosting the Saturday Disney Morning Show from 1993 to 1995. Her film credits include Love’s Labor’s Lost (2000), What’s the worst that could happen? (2001) and Away We Go (2009).
9. Sheuel Ejiofor
We can’t talk about successful Hollywood acts of Nigerian descent without mentioning Chiwetel Ejiofor.
He was born to Nigerian parents in Forest Gate, London. He qualified to show his talent at the London School of Drama and Art, after which he got into his first film, Amistad.
The actor excelled in any kind of work that was thrown at him, ranging from serials to theater.
In 2008, he received a Lawrence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film Othello In The West End where he starred as the iconic character.
His other films include Dirty Pretty Things, Children of Men, American Gangster, Salt, 12 Years A Slave and many more.
10. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Another star worth noting is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Born on August 22, 1967, he is a veteran Hollywood actor of Nigerian descent. He is also a former fashion model.
He was born in London to Yoruba parents and holds a LLB from King’s College London, followed by an LLM from the prestigious University of London.
His acting adventure began in the mid-90s, and since then, he has appeared in films such as Congo, New York Undercover, Legionnaire, Enslavement: The True Story Of Fanny Kemble, The Mummy Returns, The Bourne Identity, and GI Joe: Rise. of Cobra, Thor: The Dark World, and Pompeii.
11. Caroline Chikezie
Caroline Chikezie, born February 19, 1974, is a British-Nigerian actress, best known for playing Sasha Williams in As If, and Ellen Hardy in Footballers’ Wives. She has gained popularity in recent years as the main character in the Nigerian series, ‘The Governor’
Chikezie was born in England to Nigerian parents of Igbo descent. At the age of 14, Chikezi was sent to a boarding school in Nigeria in a bid to make her give up on her dreams of becoming an actress. Prior to that, she had attended weekend classes at Italia Conti. On her return to the UK, she attended Brunel University where she studied medicinal chemistry (she was expected to take over her father’s hospital in Nigeria), but dropped out of school. She later won a scholarship at the Academy of Living and Recording Arts in the UK.
Other films she starred in are: Brothers and Sisters in 1998 who starred as Belinda Ofori, the baby’s mother in 1998, co-starred as Sharon, Holby City in 2002, and starred in Jamila James in Judas Kiss Episode: “Parts One and Two”, Babyfather in 2002, and played the role of Candy. Others are Mistress (2005), Aeon Flux Freya (2005), Take 3 Girls Spot (2006), Breaking and Entering Erika (2006), Eragon Nasuada (2006) etc.
12. Nunsu Anozzi
It was Nunsu Anozzi Bor In England on November 17, 1978 to my Igbo parents. The 6-foot-6 giant has appeared in many films but not much is known about his early life and personal life.
He graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama where he represented the titular character of William Shakespeare’s King Lear.
He has appeared in top box office movies, including The Gray, Enders Game, Get Santa, Cinderella, Pan, The Last Legion, Atonement, and most impressively, the HBO big series Game of Thrones.